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Sadly, the new chef show has no tadka

Two new shows premiered last weekend — Masterchef India (Star Plus) and Rakhi Ka Insaf (Imagine).

tv Updated: Oct 23, 2010 00:56 IST
Poonam Saxena

Two new shows premiered last weekend — Masterchef India (Star Plus) and Rakhi Ka Insaf (Imagine). Masterchef has Akshay Kumar in a leading role because once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away (Bangkok), he worked at a food stall; Rakhi Ka Insaf has Rakhi Sawant as a sort of chief justice because, well, er, um, because everybody at Imagine loves her? (She’s already done a Rakhi Ka Swayamvar for them; the channel can do a series of Rakhi Ka / Rakhi Ki shows if they so desire — Rakhi Ka Ghosla, Rakhi Ki Chowki, Rakhi Ki Body, even – why not? – a 30-second spot called Rakhi Ka Brain. As someone suggested, how about Rakhi Ki Rakhi, in which she can tie a rakhi on Mika?)

But to return to Masterchef India. I was always under the impression that this was a show about food. I was clearly mistaken. This is a show (a) mostly about people who are huge fans of Akshay Kumar (b) meant for Zee Punjabi but carried on Star Plus by mistake. Akshay and two other happily Punjabi judges, Ajay Chopra (a chef from the Marriott in Goa, I think) and the rather dour Kunal Kapoor (a chef from the Leela Kempinski in Gurgaon) taste the food prepared by a hundred hopefuls in order to select the finalists who will take part in the food contests.

These hundred were chosen through auditions — the usual long winding queues of aspirants, with (in this case) aunties and uncles from Indore and Delhi and elsewhere waving pots and pans in the air and shrieking “Main Masterchef banna chahti hoon / chahta hoon!” into the mike. The usual back stories of some of the aspirants — mostly either unemployed or broke or sad or unappreciated or plain weird.

Every time the judges gave a thumbs up to a particular contestant, the same whoops of joy and dancing down the corridor and hugging tearful family/friends.

Oh yes, the judges and the judging. This is how it was: Each contestant wheeled in a dish prepared by him/her. Then, one by one, each judge walked from his chair to the table, tasted the dish and walked back. In many instances, the contestants burst into tears even before the judges tasted the dish. Others burst into tears after the dish was tasted. Yet others when the said dish was rejected/accepted.

Half the conversation between the judges and the contestants was in Punjabi. There was barely any talk about food, flavours or taste. It could have just as well been a show about bhangra dancing — though at least that would have been more watchable and more visually appealing.

Rakhi Ka Insaf. What can I say? I’m still in a state of mild shock. But I’ll try and describe it. The show marries two styles of American TV format. The first is the Judge Judy show (Kiran Bedi does the Indian version on Star Plus) where a quasi-judicial figure settles disputes on camera. And the second is the Jerry Springer show where trashy people discuss their personal lives in gory and graphic detail while an audience cheers, boos and eggs them on.

As Rakhi is no Judge Judy she has chosen to be Jerry Springer with implants. And all that the audience needs is stones in its hands since it behaves like a lynch mob, swarming up to the warring parties to hit them/abuse them (that is when they’re not chanting “Rakhi! Rakhi! Rakhi!” in a hysterical, slightly demented fashion). Horrifically watchable? Maybe. (But for how long?) Horrific? Definitely.